The 5 Do’s and Don’ts of Greeting a Dog

The best way to meet a dog (especially fearful or reserved dogs) is to do what the lady in the hat is doing


  1. ASK the person for permission to pet their dog
  2. Kneel down and avert your eyes sideways
  3. Angle your body slightly sideways
  4. Offer your hand for the dog to sniff
  5. Let the dog initiate touch
    -Only then lightly pet on the chest, sides of the head, or other body part the dog offers


  1. Stare in the dog’s eyes
    -Hard eye contact (staring directly in a dog’s eyes) is very confrontational and rude in the animal world
    -When a dog comes to sniff or check out your face, a friendly gesture is to close your own eyes which may elicit a lick from the dog
  2. Keep trying to touch the dog when it clearly does not want to interact
    -A dog who is hesitant to approach or moves forward and quickly moves away does not want you to reach for them or chase them to pet them. While on lead, a dog may feel trapped and pressured where it needs to snap or bite. The best thing you can do is remove yourself even if you did not pet the dog so the dog learns strangers won’t chase them and eventually that they aren’t scary.
  3. Reach over the dog’s head until it has become comfortable with you
    -Imagine a giant hand coming out of the sky coming right for your head.
  4. Slap or heartily pat the dog
    -Most dogs do not enjoy rough petting or patting. Gentle strokes are much more pleasant and desirable
  5. Feed a treat without asking permission
    -Some dogs have serious food allergies so it’s vital to ask the owner if you can feed their dog a treat before doing so in case of food sensitivities

If you follow these guidelines when greeting dogs, you may find you have many more new doggie friends who appreciate interacting with you. The dogs you meet will definitely appreciate your new-found canine etiquette.


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